My ability to cook is probably something I take for granted.
My mum, keen for all four of us to learn the basics (my brother included) had us in the kitchen as early as possible. From a chocolate sponge cake, to macaroni cheese, to stir fry, she made sure we had basic kitchen know how in our back pocket.
But not everyone is that lucky. Not every parent can cook themselves, or necessarily has to time to pass on those skills, or is around to do so. Something echoed in research by Co-Operative Food, which showed that there is a big skills gap in those aged 16-35 year olds.
And yes, before you start, I’m outside that age limit. But my sisters and my brother aren’t. Many of my friends aren’t. And if they can’t cook for themselves, how are they going to, in turn, cook for their friends or their families?
To help fill the gap, Co-Operative Food have joined forced with SORTEDFood to create Now Cook It – a website filled with the basics. Easy to follow recipes, and videos so that cooking for yourself doesn’t have to be daunting. Need to know what you should actually have in your kitchen cupboard? Sorted. Never washed up before? Chopped an onion? Boiled an egg?
Or if you’ve got those down pat, upgrade a little. Tackle one of the recipes and test those new found skills.
Which is what I did. Co-Operative Food asked me if I’d have a go, and I admit, it’s not with something I cook often at home. Mostly because it never turns out quite right. Yes even us who can cook can still stuff things up. And for some reason, roasted veg couscous has always come out a little bit…. meh for me. My veggies are never quite right, or the couscous isn’t flavoured enough, or too greasy. Time to see if this little website, and a box of goodies, could help me fix it.
The recipe is deceptively simple. I followed the instructions – and yeah, it’s easy to stray if you have an inkling of what you’re doing, but if it’s a new thing, or like me something you get wrong, back to the beginning you go. And follow the recipe step by step.
So I chopped:
And coated the veggies in oil and seasoning, before popping them into the oven:
Then I made the couscous – this bit was actually the most confusing on the instructions. I ended up referring back to the packet and a little maths, because that’s what I’m used to. The video explained it in a different way, which also made better sense!
Soon the veggies were ready.
Everything was mixed together.
And it turned out beautifully. Actually one of the best couscous dishes I’ve made – which means it’s going in my file for use again in future. It went perfectly with the pork steaks I’d plucked out of our freezer.
I love this idea.
What I’d love also is to see some basics on nutrition on there too. So maybe a break down of food groups to help people understand what foods are proteins, what are carbohydrates, what are sugars, etc. Something to break down the barriers in knowledge – we’re constantly being fed information and misinformation on food, and this would be a way to help address it without it being linked to any sort of diet, or fad.
And for me, could we please get some conversions on the recipes for the temperatures? I have an ancient old gas cooker that needs me to hit Google for a conversion table.
But the idea is great and if it goes anywhere towards helping people of any age learn how to cook, then that can only be a good thing.
Thanks to Co-Operative Food and SORTEDFood for the box of goodies and for showing me a couscous recipe I can actually get right!